Tons of people every week come up to me, looking confused, and say: "So how do you start a fashion business?" or "I want to start my own fashion business, how do I do it?" or "I want a career in fashion but I want to be my own boss". Here's my answer on starting a successful fashion business. Some tips, some advice and lots of ideas.
1. Develop an Idea
And make sure its not copy-pasted from a website you stumbled upon while studying in the UK / US. I get plenty of ideas every day (I get inspired easily), but how many of them are actually worth putting into action? Ask yourself these three questions first :
- Is my idea offering something unique in the market?
- Is my idea feasible to carry out given my current circumstances?
- Is there a 'need' for my idea in the market?
2. Write Down a Business Plan
While making my business plan for Style Fiesta nearly 14 months after its commencement, I suddenly came up with conclusions and unanswered questions that I had been clueless about previously. On retrospect, if I was aware of those fundamentals 14 months in advance, I can think of a few mammoth changes/decisions I would have implemented. I urge you to build a business plan before setting up a business - you need to realize your strengths, weaknesses, target audience, projections and essentially your vision, even if it's in the most basic of formats.
3. Know Your Customer
This is nearly the best piece of advice I've ever received - to know your customer like you know the back of your hand. What she likes, what she eats, what she reads, where she lives, everything - every business is selling something, be it a product or a service; its essential to know whom you're selling it to.
4. Get Some Experience
This is the biggest gift you'll give yourself en-route to becoming a successful businesswoman. If you're planning on running your own company, big or small, you need to know your shit. Excuse me for putting it so bluntly. My 4 internships before Style Fiesta gave me insights into situations Google could not have guided me through, right from office politics, lunch hour restrictions to integrating an internal messaging system.
5. Free Marketing Is the Best Kind of Marketing
Wondering how you could get out the word about your business? Free marketing could mean everything from updating your Facebook status with your new collections, making your friends share links about your business, leaving comments on like-minded businesses or encouraging word-of-mouth publicity among your family, friends and social circles. If you're not paying for it, and it helps for even one extra set of eyeballs on your work, it's worth it.
6. Use Your Connections
Taking precious time out of your Saturday and attending an event on the other side of town has more perks than you can imagine. Every connection you make adds priceless value to your business. These connections, be it friends of friends, mentors, PR agents, practically anyone, are more or less your stairway to success, connecting you to priceless resources along the way.
7. Is It Permanent? Are You Committed?
Setting up a business requires as much commitment as a marriage, so before you take the plunge ask yourself whether you're ready for it. Launching a business that you get bored of within the first quarter will most probably leave an impression on the lifetime of your career.
8. Back It Up with Passion
If you've got tons of this, then you've got the most basic thing figured out. The rest will just follow.